23 “But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.”
But each one in his own order:
The answer to the timing of the resurrection is in the ranking of resurrections. The word “order” is a military term for falling in rank. Christ was first in rank in the resurrection, and those who follow him are next in rank in the resurrection – the full harvest.
Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
Here is the file order or the ranking of bodily resurrections: Christ rose first in ranking, then subsequently Christian bodies will rise at Christ’s coming (the Rapture) in the future, then Jewish believers of the Old Testament and believers of the Tribulation will rise at the Second Coming just before the Millennium (Da 12:2). Unsaved bodies of all ages will rise at the end of the Millennium, the second death or eternal death (Re 21:8).
1 Th 4:16-17, For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ (believers of the church) will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
The word “then” means after this. There is an interval of time between the order of ranks of the resurrection at Jesus’ Second Coming and the establishment of His mediatory Millennial Kingdom. The Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 and 25 give the signs that precede Jesus’ Second Coming to establish His Millennial Kingdom.
comes the end,
“The end” is the end of time and the ushering in of eternity. This will be 1007 years after the Rapture. There will be seven years of Tribulation, then Jesus will reign in the Millennium for 1000 years (Re 20:7-10).
when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father,
Jesus will deliver the Millennial Kingdom to the Father at the end of the Millennium.
when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
Christ conquered all other authority on earth at the end of the Millennium (Re 20:7-10). All things will be what God intended them to be. Sin will not exist, and the Father will reign without challenge.
For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
This verse is a paraphrase from Psalm 110:1, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” Christ will reign in the Millennium until He puts all enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Jesus defeated death in principle so that, from the resurrection of believers forward, there will be no further physical death. Jesus will destroy the final enemy by the resurrection their bodies. The word “destroyed” is a strong term meaning <em>annihilated</em>. This is the death of death for believers in the future. Universal death for them will end at this point. Once we pass from physical death into our eternal resurrection body, we will never die again.
Jesus’ victory in time will be the death of death.
There will come a time when death will die. Christians will live in their resurrection bodies for eternity. Ray Stedman tells of an epitaph written on a tombstone:
Remember, friend, as you pass by, As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, soon you will be, Prepare for death, and follow me.
Some wag wrote underneath it:
To follow you, I’m not content, Until I know which way you went.